Author: John Hammer

About John Hammer

Here are my most recent posts

Primary Thoughts

The Greensboro City Council faced challengers from the left and the right in the primary on Tuesday, Oct. 10. Democracy Greensboro, one of the increasing number of organizations that have been spawned by Nelson Johnson of the Beloved Community Center, developed a platform, held a candidates’ forum and ranked candidates. Two of the candidates who ran work for Nelson Johnson, but neither made it through the primary. The Guilford County Republican Party, which in the past has largely stayed out of City Council elections, tried to get involved. The GOP didn’t recruit candidates, but it worked for the candidates who filed to run who registered as Republicans, and that didn’t work out too well. District 5 City Councilmember Tony Wilkins, who has won in the past without much help from the Republican Party, is the only Republican who made it through the primary and will be on the ballot in November. Democracy Greensboro faired slightly better. In the at-large race, both David Wils, who participated in the Democracy Greensboro forum, and Michelle Kennedy, who received its highest ranking from Democracy Greensboro in the at-large race, finished in the top six. In the District 4 race, Gary Kenton, one of the founders of Democracy Greensboro, made it through the primary but, because the third candidate dropped out of the race, the primary was a formality. In District 2, C.J. Brinson,...

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Under the Hammer: Oct. 12, 2017

It seemed odd when Steve Bannon left the White House because he was President Donald John Trump’s idea man during the campaign. But now Bannon has revealed why he left the White House and went back to Breitbart. He says he’s putting together a coalition to go after every sitting Republican senator with the exception of Sen. Ted Cruz, and it appears he means it. Trump won with the support of people who wanted him to go to Washington and drain the swamp, meaning get rid of the entrenched bureaucracy that is there, including the elected officials whose loyalty is to Washington, not to their own constituents. The Senate controlled by Republicans has proven to be Trump’s biggest enemy. But if Alabama is any indication of what Trump supporters want, then the Republican senators should be worried about Bannon because usually when the big national committees get involved in a race they get what they want. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spearheaded sending $32 million to Sen. Luther Strange to get him elected to continue to serve in the Senate because McConnell knew that Strange was on his team and Roy Moore was not. Moore overwhelmingly won the Republican primary. The Republicans in the Senate should sit up and take notice because Trump knows, and Bannon knows, that there is more than one way to get a bill through...

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Elected Officials Like North Carolina-Style Tax Reform for the Federal Government

Sixth District Congressman Mark Walker and 13th District Congressman Ted Budd, who both represent parts of Greensboro, held a press conference on Tuesday, Oct. 10, to talk about the Republican tax reform plan, and how tax reform plans, if done properly, will pay for themselves without spending cuts, as was done by the Republican-led General Assembly in North Carolina. The press conference was at the Piedmont Triad International Airport and North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, state Sen. Rick Gunn from Alamance County and state House majority whip Rep. Jon Hardister all spoke. Walker and Budd talked about the...

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With Monopoly At Risk, N&R Lashes Out

The News & Record on Wednesday, Oct. 4 blamed state Sen. Trudy Wade for just about everything except the flu pandemic of 1918 and Hurricane Hazel. But that’s what happens when you mess with someone’s pocketbook, or in this case a newspaper’s state-mandated monopoly, which is exactly what the state is getting ready to do. State Sen. Trudy Wade sponsored a bill that originally would have taken away the monopoly that paid circulation newspapers have on advertising required by state law, such as notices about public hearings and, by attorneys, for foreclosures, divorces and such. During the legislative session, the area the bill would affect was reduced to a pilot program for Guilford County, and that was passed by the legislature but vetoed by Gov. Roy Cooper. In this session the bill is on the agenda to be introduced as a local bill and the governor cannot veto local bills. The bill would allow Guilford County to establish a portion of its website for government required advertising and also make it legal to run ads in newspapers with a limited number of paid subscribers, like the Rhino Times. The N&R doesn’t bother to explain why the state should require attorneys and governments to advertise in paid circulation newspapers like their own. The N&R does make the claim that more people see ads placed by the government and attorneys in...

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Under the Hammer: Oct. 5, 2017

From what I’ve been reading, the Republicans in Congress don’t understand what kind of tax reform Americans want. Americans want the kind of tax reform where they pay less in total taxes, not more, or the same but divided up differently. For instance, if the rate is lowered but taxpayers don’t get to deduct state and local taxes, and they end up paying more, who cares that the rate is lower. The more I read about how the Republicans are lowering the taxes by raising the lowest rate from 10 percent to 12 percent, but increasing the standard deduction, the more I think they are simply playing with numbers. It’s beginning to sound more and more like Obamacare, which was going to lower the cost of healthcare insurance. Or how about the repeal of Obamacare, which Republicans talked about for seven years and then couldn’t find the votes to pass. If the Republicans were really talking about tax reform where the people paid less of their money to the government, then they would also have to be talking about spending cuts; but where are the spending cuts? If the rates are lowered so that the federal government starts borrowing more, that doesn’t sound like a good solution either. No one is going to understand this tax reform any more than the current tax code. It sounds like they are...

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Rhino Shorts: Oct. 5, 2017

In the article last week headlined “High Point Wanted Yes or No on Baseball Stadium Money, County Gave Strong Maybe,” we got some folks confused. A part of the article states that Grasshopper President Donald Moore had posted favorable comments about the High Point stadium project on Facebook. That is incorrect. Don Moore posted favorable comments on Facebook and Don Moore is no relation to Donald Moore, the president of the Grasshoppers. As far as we know, Donald Moore has not posted any comments about the proposed stadium project on Facebook. It was our mistake and we’d like to apologize to Donald Moore for the confusion. ***** As predicted, the new Rhino Times website did not go live without a few glitches. We hoped to get it up and running on Thursday. It was Monday before everything was worked out. But it’s up now and if you have any problems or suggestions, please let us know. We know there will be some problems but don’t know what they will be or we would have already fixed them. The current e-Edition will come up if you click on the front page below it, even though the front page is not the front page of the most recent edition. But we know about that problem, so it should be fixed soon. ***** President Donald J. Trump will be in Greensboro on...

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2017 City Council Primary Endorsements

Early voting for the Greensboro City Council primary ends on Saturday, Oct. 7 and the primary is Tuesday, Oct. 10. The Rhino Times is endorsing candidates in all the Greensboro City Council races. Regardless of where you live in Greensboro, you can vote in your district race, for three candidates in the at-large race and in the mayor’s race. There are 38 candidates on the ballot, but five candidates in district races dropped out too late to have their names removed from the ballot, so their names are on the ballot but they aren’t running. In District 4, this...

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Under the Hammer: Sept. 28, 2017

President Donald John Trump is missing his advisors that Chief of Staff John Kelly ran off. He made a big political mistake in getting involved in the Republican Senate primary in Alabama where Roy Moore, who Trump opposed, won. He should have stayed out, but instead he got in on the wrong side and wasted his time and political capital campaigning for Sen. Luther Strange over Moore. Strange is one of the swamp creatures that Trump said he would run out of Washington. Moore is much more closely aligned with Trump politically. Trump needed the advice of a savvy political consultant who would have advised him that Moore was going to win and there was no good reason to support Strange. It appears that McConnell, or some of his people, talked Trump into it, because McConnell put millions of dollars into the campaign for Strange, who was appointed to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions. McConnell wanted Strange because Strange was on the McConnell team. Moore, like Trump, is a loose cannon. You have to hope that Trump struck a deal with McConnell before agreeing to campaign for Strange. Wouldn’t it be great if McConnell promised to resign if Trump campaigned for Strange and Moore won? A deal like that would make it worthwhile, but I haven’t seen any reports of McConnell packing his bags. If Trump supported Strange simply...

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City Council Race Takes Sharp Left

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks immersed in city politics. Usually I’m swimming in politics, but lately it’s been hard to keep my head above water. The City Council election has moved so far left that candidates who would normally be considered liberal are running as the more conservative candidate in the race. The challenge to most incumbent Democrats is coming from the left, not from the right. It seemed like things should be going the other way. The Democrats suffered a big defeat in 2016. They are supposed to spend a couple of years licking their wounds. And I think the Hillary Clinton supporters may be doing just that. But the supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders, the left wing of the party, is energized and organized and they are running for office It took me a while to figure things out, but what has happened on the left is what happened on the right after Barack Obama was elected president in 2008. On the right it was called the Tea Party Movement. It was the more conservative Republicans, joined by some who are so conservative they refuse to join the Republican Party. But the far right got organized, held meetings and ran a bunch of candidates for office. Following the 2008 election of Obama, the voters in the City Council elections of 2009 elected a Republican mayor,...

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A Little About A Lot Of Candidates In One Of The More Atypical City Council Elections

In the City Council primary, early voting is underway and the primary is Tuesday, Oct. 10. This has been a different kind of election from the get-go. There are 38 names on the ballot but only 33 candidates – which means five candidates paid their filing fee and filled out the forms to run but then dropped out too late to get their names removed from the ballot. First, the five candidates who dropped out are District 1 Charles Patton, District 2 Felecia Angus and Tim Vincent, District 3 Payton McGarry and District 4 Andrew Belford. So if you...

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Under the Hammer: Sept. 21, 2017

President Donald John Trump went to the United Nations and did what you are not supposed to do – he told the truth and he told it in plain, unvarnished language. At the UN, heads of state are supposed to speak in platitudes. The major point of all speeches at the UN is supposed to be about how great the UN is, how it has prevented World War III and made the world a better place. Trump did make some nice comments about the UN, but mostly about what it could be, not what it is, which is one of the most bureaucratic and inefficient organizations the world has ever seen. Trump said standing in front of the General Assembly what others have only said in private: What sense does a Human Rights Commission make if you put some of the world’s worst human rights violators on the commission to protect human rights? Calling North Korean president Kim Jong Un “Rocketman” in a speech at the UN, with the North Korean delegation sitting right there, was nothing short of brilliant. What Kim wants more than anything is legitimacy. He wants North Korea to be recognized as one of the world’s great powers because it has joined the club of nuclear nations. What he doesn’t want is to be belittled and made the butt of jokes at the UN. But...

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City Council Says: Just Because You Have a Deed, Doesn’t Mean You Own the Land

Just Because You Have a Deed, Doesn’t Mean You Own the Land By John Hammer The best part of the Greensboro City Council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 19, came at the end. It may not have been the most significant action taken, but it was certainly the most interesting, proving that even the most routine real estate transaction can be made interesting by people. The item on the agenda was the formal transfer of some open space and flood plain from the Starmount Company to the City of Greensboro. The 7.8 acres at 605 Way Cross Dr. in Starmount...

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Rhino Shorts: Sept. 21, 2017

The first Schmoozefest of fall is Thursday, Sept. 28 from 6 to 8 at Lee’s Sports Bar at 2618 Lawndale Dr. in the shopping center across from Target. Free beer, wine and hors d’oeuvres will be available while supplies last for those who sign in and wear a name tag. ***** I watched the video online of the confrontation between the bike cops downtown and some young black men in 2016 that has caused a new controversy. My first reaction was, I don’t want to live in a city where a man can punch or slap a police officer in uniform doing his job and not be arrested. What I saw in the video was police officers being extremely patient with a bunch of unruly guys on the sidewalk in front of a bar where at least one of them had been thrown out. It appears that if one of the group had not decided to hit a police officer, the cops would have moved the group down the street and the whole thing would have been forgotten. In fact, even though the men were arrested, it appears to have been forgotten for a year. My guess is that the guys who were arrested saw people like the Scales brothers and Dejuan Yourse getting paid by the Greensboro City Council and decided to get in that line. ***** At-large...

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Even Behind Closed Doors, Attorneys Can’t Explain The City’s Case Against David Wray

By John Hammer Tuesday, Sept. 19, the Greensboro City Council met in closed session to discuss the lawsuit former Police Chief David Wray filed against the city for legal fees he incurred in defending himself in other lawsuits. Greensboro has a policy dating back to 1980 to pay the legal fees for employees who are sued for actions taken while employees, even if they were at fault. Wray and the city were sued by a number of police officers for racial discrimination. The city has refused to pay Wray’s legal fees because the city claimed he was acting outside...

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Guilford County May Get New Judge If State Legislature Redraws Judicial Districts

Changes may be coming to the Guilford County court districts according to state Rep. Jon Hardister, who is House majority whip and serves on the North Carolina House Select Committee on Judicial Redistricting. He said, “In reviewing the judicial districts in North Carolina, it is clear that we need to update and streamline the system. My focus is on the judicial system in Guilford County, which desperately needs to be updated.” According to Hardister, the largest of the five judicial districts in Guilford County, 18 C, has 129,000 residents, and the smallest, 18 A, has 62,000. He said that...

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More About Money in City Council Races

Last week we wrote about the campaign finance reports for the Greensboro mayoral and City Council candidates. Since then, we have more than a couple of updates. District 2 City Council candidate Jim Kee was listed as not filing a pre-primary report and has, since then, filed one. Kee has raised a total of $1,600, and $1,500 was during the reporting period that began on July 1. Kee has spent $1,041 and, as of August 31, had $559 in his campaign account. At-large City Council candidate James Ingram originally filed a threshold statement that he would not raise or...

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Under the Hammer: Sept. 14, 2017

Evidently Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell thought President Donald Trump wouldn’t punch back. But when Trump joined with the Democrats to raise the debt ceiling and provide emergency funds for Texas, he proved that he has a powerful counterpunch. Ryan has opposed Trump since back during the campaign when he refused to appear on the same stage with Trump. More recently Ryan was critical of Trump for the comments Trump made about Charlottesville. Trump’s comments were accurate and made sense but were not politically correct. Instead of defending his president from unwarranted attacks, Ryan joined with the attackers. McConnell is sneakier than Ryan, but everyone in Washington, including Trump, knows that McConnell told Republicans running last November to distance themselves from Trump. McConnell also failed to put together the votes to pass some kind of Obamacare reform bill. If McConnell had pushed anything through the Senate, the House and Senate would be in negotiations now about how the reform bill. But because the Senate didn’t pass anything there is nothing to negotiate, and repealing Obamacare – one of Trump’s main campaign promises – is dead in the water. Trump may have also noticed that the Republicans in Congress keep postponing funds for the wall. Trump was consistent in his campaign. He didn’t talk about a lot of issues but he talked about the...

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Council Adopts Congressional Schedule

Last November, the voters of Greensboro passed a $126 million bond referendum. At the time, one of the arguments in favor of passing the bonds was that this money would be spent quickly, in part to give the economy in Greensboro a boost. One reason taxes were raised this year was to pay for the bonds. But bonds don’t have to be paid for until they are sold, and they aren’t sold until the money is spent – or is about to be spent. So far the only money that has been spent was $3 million for the soccer fields at Bryan Park, and that was in order to have fields ready for a tournament. Mayor Nancy Vaughan said that meetings are being held on the bonds and plans made, and that for some of the housing bonds the city is looking for matching money. But it hasn’t reached the point yet where the City Council needs to vote on issuing bonds or spending money. You would hope that before approving bonds the City Council would spend some time discussing how the money will be spent, but then the City Council could treat the bonds like it treated the budget and accept the recommendations of staff. Which kind of proves our point from a year ago: One of the reasons this newspaper opposed the bonds is that the City...

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Rhino Shorts: Sept. 14, 2017

I won’t promise it but I will consider endorsing any City Council candidate who will sign an affadavit promising to finish the Downtown Greenway in my lifetime. I’m 63 and seem to be a good health, so that should give them enough time. This project began in 2001 and it is not even approaching completion. What is this vastly complicated project that has completely stumped the City of Greensboro? It is a wide sidewalk. That’s all it is. I walked on one of the very few completed portions and that was back when Denise Roth was city manager. This is an extra-wide sidewalk around the downtown – a little over four miles long – and in 16 years the city has not been able to complete 25 percent of it. I’m going out on a limb here, but I’m predicting that the Tanger Center for the Performing Arts will be completed before the Downtown Greenway. In fact, based on its current rate of completion, The Tanger may have opened, been a wonderful venue for 30 years and been torn down by the time the Greenway is completed. ***** I’m not going to say that it was the strangest candidates’ forum I have ever attended, because I attended the forums when Jorge Cornell – a local gang leader who is currently serving a long prison sentence – was running for...

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Big Money Raised in City Council Races

Follow the money is always good advice in politics. If you are betting on political races, the safe bet is always on the candidate who raises the most money. There are exceptions – our current president is one – and a challenger usually has to raise considerably more money than the incumbent to unseat them. But all things being equal, the candidate who raises the most money usually wins. The pre-primary campaign financial reports for the Greensboro City Council candidates, which cover all the money raised through August 29, were due on Tuesday, Sept. 5. With the primary on...

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Under the Hammer: Sept. 7, 2017

President Donald J. Trump is learning the ways of Washington. If you are going to work in the swamp you have to get used to putting your waders on every morning, and Trump has done that with his decision on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). What he did was place the ball squarely in Congress’s court and, as we all know, Congress can’t hit a ball given 10 tries. Trump said the current DACA program created by executive order – which even President Barack Obama said was unconstitutional the year before he decided to implement it – would be abolished in six months. This decision gives Congress six months to pass a bill on an issue that has bipartisan support. Consider that Congress has had five years since Obama, by executive order, put DACA in place to take action to make it legal, what chance does Congress have of getting it done in six months? Speaker Paul Ryan said that DACA was unconstitutional, that it was the clear role of Congress not the executive branch to make laws regarding naturalization, but Congress hasn’t passed those laws. The question is, can Congress – which can’t repeal Obamacare, can’t reform the tax code, hasn’t yet raised the debt ceiling or dealt with the budget and can’t seem to tackle any large issue – come to an agreement on something as...

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Rhino Shorts: Sept. 7, 2017

The folks who live near the Shops at Friendly who managed to stop a Trader Joe’s from locating on the corner of Hobbs Road and Friendly Avenue might be interested in a report from Business Insider released last month. According to a study of home prices, those living near a Trader Joe’s saw their property values increase 67 percent over the past five years. Living near a Whole Foods, by comparison, resulted in a 52 percent increase and near an Aldi a 51 percent increase. So their property values would have increased and the rest of Greensboro would have had a Trader Joe’s if the protests had not been so vehement as to make Trader Joe’s decide it really didn’t want to do business in Greensboro. ***** The Greensboro City Council is made up of eight Democrats and one Republican, but it appears the current City Council is taking its lead from our current Republican Congress, which didn’t meet in August and is only meeting for 12 days in September. The Greensboro City Council only met once in July, once in August and is meeting once in September. In the old days, like earlier this year, the City Council met three times a month. It held two formal meetings and a more informal work session. Under the current leadership, the work sessions have been shortened from half-day sessions to...

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Why Labor Day Doesn’t Get a Parade

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Under the Hammer: August 31, 2017

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan publicly went after President Donald J. Trump for his pardon of Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. This doesn’t bode well for the Republican Party. Ryan didn’t go after President Barack Obama when he was granting clemency to thousands of drug dealers and putting dangerous criminals, some with long felony records, out on the streets. So Ryan evidently doesn’t feel the need to comment on every pardon the president grants. It is the prerogative of the president to grant pardons or commute sentences. He doesn’t need approval from anyone. So why would Ryan choose to pick a fight with Trump when he pardoned, not only a supporter, but someone who has a similar view on immigration? Is Ryan in favor of open borders? Or is it simply that Ryan has been in Washington too long and believes that what he reads in the far left mainstream media represents what most Americans believe. The Republican Party is a nonselective organization. Anyone can join, and they can’t be thrown out. Ryan probably thinks that Trump shouldn’t be a Republican, but maybe it’s Ryan who shouldn’t be a Republican. For years the Republican Party has stood for lowering taxes, reducing government spending, promoting capitalism over socialism and, in particular for the last seven years, ending Obamacare. Republicans have also favored a stricter interpretation of the Constitution, more rights for states and less...

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Rhino Shorts: August 31, 2017

It’s entertaining when the editorial department of the News & Recordchooses to write a column about an event that the news department didn’t see as significant enough to cover. This week, editorial writer Doug Clark chose to write his column about a dust up at the meeting of the Guilford County Economic Development Alliance last week over the proposed High Point baseball stadium. The Rhino Times did cover the meeting, so if you want to read more than a snippet about what happened, along with accurate reporting of what happened, check out Scott’s article on page 4. If the commissioners agree to give High Point the money it is requesting, you can bet Greensboro will be at the next meeting asking for its share. Former Rockingham County District Attorney Craig Blitzer has admitted he did it and made sworn statements that he conspired with former Person and Caswell County District Attorney Wallace Bradsher to steal a total of about $48,000 from the state in salaries for their wives. It’s a lot of money by men who had been entrusted to enforce the law and put people who break the law in jail. Yet the two were only charged with misdemeanors. What kind of legal system do we have that protects men who completely abuse the system from serious punishment? Sunday I needed to come to work for a couple...

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Hardister Says He Won’t Stay Double Bunked with Faircloth in New District

The new state legislative districts have now passed the state House and Senate. The governor doesn’t get to weigh in on redistricting, so the new districts became law when they passed. Or they became law at least until three federal judges decide whether to accept them or not. The three-judge panel had ruled 18 state House and nine state Senate districts illegal because, in the opinion of the judges, they were drawn with too much consideration given to race and diluted the votes of some black voters in those districts because the judges believed the districts contained too many...

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City Discovers Easements After Buying Downtown Parking Deck Land

The city has hit not a roadblock but a sizable bump in its effort to build a $30 million public parking deck downtown with a Westin Hotel on top of it. The problem is that an adjacent property owner, Rocky Scarfone, owns two easements through the current parking lot that is slated to be the ground floor of the proposed parking deck. Apparently the city was unaware that these easements existed when it purchased the land for the parking lot that stretches from East Market Street along Davie Street to February 1 Place. Scarfone owns the Cone Denim Entertainment Center...

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Under the Hammer: August 24, 2017

The politically incorrect but factually accurate statement by President Donald J. Trump about the demonstration in Charlottesville where a woman was killed is, according to many Trump deniers, the straw that broke the camel’s back. How many times are we going to hear this? Remember when Trump’s statement about Sen. John McCain was the one that was going to cost him the primary. And when the video of Trump talking with Billy Bush was going to cause him to drop out of the race and have Vice President Mike Pence run for president? The Trump deniers were wrong those times and all the others, and they are wrong again. Trump didn’t say what he was supposed to say, which was to denounce the white supremacists and agree with the mainstream media that the antifa people who came to fight with the white supremacists were doing the right thing. Trump is not politically correct, which is one of the big reasons he got elected. The mainstream media went ballistic over Trump’s statement, but then again they go ballistic over statements Trump makes all the time. The white supremacists are deplorable and sick people, but the anarchists who have been wreaking havoc in the streets for the past couple of years aren’t much better. The blame for Charlottesville should be placed on the city leadership that didn’t allow the police to maintain order. Whenever a...

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Eclipse Viewing Not Spoiled By Clouds

Everything was great about the solar eclipse in Greensboro, except the clouds. But even the clouds offered a moment of joy in Center City Park on Monday. Early on, the sky was clear, and with the eclipse glasses being handed out in Center City Park, you could see the moon biting into the edge of the sun. Then the clouds came, and with the eclipse glasses on you couldn’t see anything. So people sat on the grass and chatted or wandered around looking for people they knew. It was a lighthearted friendly crowd, biding their time, confident that the clouds...

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Wyndham Musings

There are certainly more prestigious golf tournaments than the Wyndham Championship but there can’t be a friendlier golf tournament on the PGA tour. Every year I’m impressed with how nice people are. Now some of the signs that used to say “Quiet Please” say “Shhhhhhh.” It’s a nice touch. One of the best perks of a press pass is parking. The shuttles from the media lots to the Irwin Smallwood Media Center are from Christian Tours, and they must have a company policy against hiring surly drivers. Driving a shuttle back and forth from one parking lot to another while everyone else is enjoying golf seems like the kind of job that could make a fellow surly, but these guys are always cheerful and go out of their way to be helpful. Riding the shuttle in on Sunday, I wasn’t in the best mood because on the way out to the tournament I’d had a flat tire and discovered that I don’t have a spare tire. Not a great way to start any day. But on the ride in, the shuttle driver stopped so we could all see three deer grazing in a yard near the golf course with buses, cars and golf carts all whizzing past. It brightened my day and for the rest of the ride the talk was not of golf but about deer. It seems...

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Rhino Shorts: August 24, 2017

There was a meeting on Tuesday for the public to review and comment on the preliminary designs for the portion of the four-mile downtown Greenway that runs between Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Gate City Boulevard. The Downtown Greenway is becoming the project that will never end. After 16 years of planning, according to the city the design for this part of the Greenway is about 50 percent complete. Maybe by 2033 the designs will be 100 percent complete and by 2049 the construction will be completed. But that is assuming that the Greenway doesn’t hit any roadblocks and construction continues at its current pace. The Greenway, for all its hoopla, is no more than an extra wide sidewalk. How long does it take the city to design and build a four-mile long extra wide sidewalk? The answer is, we don’t know, but we do know that it takes more than 16 years. There are a multitude of efforts by well-intentioned people to provide schools, teachers and students with school supplies because the schools can’t afford school supplies, and that got me thinking If the $9 billion spent on public education by the State of North Carolina and the $200 million by Guilford County is not enough money to provide adequate school supplies for the schools, imagine what the school administrators must be going through. Everyone in education...

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Letters to the Editor: August 24, 2017

NOT DIGGING QUARRY DEAR EDITOR, Lehigh Hanson Southeast LLC, a subsidiary of German corporation Heidelberg Concrete, will soon request an operating permit from Guilford County for a rock quarry to be located on a 355-acre site in southeast Guilford County. I am a resident of Pleasant Garden in southeast Guilford County, totally opposed to the quarry, and have asked Guilford County’s Planning Board and commissioners to deny Lehigh Hanson’s operating permit request.  The chief reason for my opposition is the possibility of significant environmental damage caused by the quarry’s work. The company has a sad history of serious environmental violations in other states resulting in fines and penalties.  In California, for example, industrial wastewater, containing high levels of dangerous metals, was discharged into the San Francisco Bay; solid wastes were dumped onto the ground; and, in April 2017, they were fined for violating air quality regulations.  The estimated productive life of the proposed quarry in southeast Guilford County is at least 40 years, plenty of time for irreparable damage to be done by a company that appears to have little regard for environmental responsibility or respect for local ordinances. No quarry here. Ann Thornlow PULL THEM ALL DOWN DEAR EDITOR, The minority leader of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, wants to remove all Confederate statues from the US Capitol. Why not remove all of the statues of slave owners and Indian...

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NC Supreme Court Rules Wray Can Sue City

Greensboro has spent over $500,000 in legal fees arguing in court that former Police Chief David Wray couldn’t sue the city over legal fees, and the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled against the city and in favor of Wray. What that means is that Wray’s lawsuit against the city can go forward, and, if it chooses, the city can spend another $500,000 or more on trying to keep from paying Wray $220,000 in legal fees. The Greensboro City Council adopted a policy in 1980 stating that the city would pay the legal costs of city employees who were sued...

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Democrats Don’t Like Most Recent State Redistricting Plan Any Better Than Old One

The Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly have redrawn the districts for the state House and Senate seats, and the Democrats don’t like the new districts any better than the current ones. That is the gist of the public hearing held across the state on the newly drawn districts on Tuesday, August 22. The truth is that the Republicans don’t like it much either. The Republicans were satisfied with the districts as they were drawn in 2011. But the current districts were ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court and a a panel of three federal judges ordered that new districts...

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Under the Hammer: August 17, 2017

The mainstream media have found a way to blame the tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia, on President Donald J. Trump. It is an incredible stretch, but the mainstream media have managed to take the blame from the Charlottesville and Virginia law enforcement and place it on Trump because his initial statement was not considered strong enough in its condemnation of the white supremacists who were holding the rally. But to be fair, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is also being attacked for defending the right of all Americans to free speech. The ACLU defended the white supremacists in court when Charlottesville attempted to move the rally to another site. If only polite noncontroversial speech were protected by the First Amendment, there would really be no need for a First Amendment. It is radical speech, the kind that makes people’s blood boil, that needs protection. No matter how distasteful the beliefs expressed at the rally were, according to the ACLU, the white supremacists had a right to express those views and that right was recognized by the courts. But neither the white supremacists nor those who came to protest against them had a right to attack those who they disagreed with. Unfortunately, both sides came ready for a fight and that fight got completely out of hand, resulting in the death of one young woman and the serious injury of...

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City Shouldn’t Protect Child Molestors from Students

It seems in Greensboro, anything can be made controversial, even locating a charter school downtown. Evidently, according to at least one candidate for the Greensboro City Council, the downtown should be set aside for homeless sex offenders and a school would interfere with their freedom of movement. At-large City Council candidate Michelle Kennedy is the director of the Interactive Resource Center (IRC), a facility that provides services for the homeless during the day, but only becomes a night shelter during extremely cold nights in the winter, has raised questions about a proposed charter school locating about a block from the IRC. The old Dorothy Bardolph Building at the corner of Church and Washington streets was purchased from the city in 2016 by Greensboro developer Marty Kotis, who has plans to put a charter school in the building. According to Kennedy, it is not the proper location for a charter school because it may inconvenience registered sex offenders who are homeless and use the IRC. Reports are that seven registered sex offenders use the IRC as their mailing address. Because registered sex offenders are not allowed near schools, the registered sex offenders who use the IRC might have to detour around the charter school to get to the IRC. Kennedy has made various and conflicting statements about the proposed charter school, but generally she opposes it. At-large City Councilmember Mike Barber, who is...

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Rhino Shorts: August 17, 2017

The Wyndham Championship week kicked off with a pro-am on Monday and the tournament, played Thursday through Sunday, makes the Sedgefield golf course the center of the PGA world. Since moving to Sedgefield 10 years ago, the Wyndham has showed improvement in the caliber of the golfers and in the galleries. Although it’s going to take a while to top the galleries in 2015 when Tiger Woods was seeking his first win in two years – and except for one disastrous hole on Sunday, he might have done it. What he did do was increase the size of the crowds to previously unseen levels. New this year at the Wyndham, not only do active military get free admission for themselves and a guest, but that has been extended to veterans. You have to pre-register to take advantage of this offer but you can do so by going to https://birdiesforthebrave2.sheerid.com/wyndham-2017. I thought Greensboro was somewhat unique in having a gang leader run for City Council. Jorge Cornell of the Latin King and Queen Nation ran for City Council in 2009 and 2011. Cornell is now serving a 28-year sentence in federal prison, so it’s likely that his political career is over. But in Detroit, four of eight mayoral candidates are convicted felons. We can’t touch that here in Greensboro. According to the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, Guilford County...

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Under the Hammer: August 10, 2017

According to the latest intelligence reports, North Korea now has the ability to miniaturize a nuclear weapon so that he can be carried by an intercontinental ballistic missile and has a missile capable of hitting at least the West Coast of the US and perhaps as far as Chicago. The fact that North Korea has been allowed to travel down this road toward becoming a nuclear power for the past 20 years is an incredible story of ineptitude by the US government, whose most important job is to protect Americans from foreign aggressors. The time to stop North Korea was before it developed nuclear bombs and before it developed intercontinental ballistic missiles, but that train has left the station because the US has done virtually nothing to halt North Korea’s steady movement forward. Now, according to the latest security intelligence, the Americans living west of Chicago could be wiped out by a mad man who has nuclear weapons. So far, other than a few incidents at sea, North Korea has not attacked anyone. Maybe they never will. But wouldn’t the world be a safer place if at some point in the past 20 years one of our presidents had stepped up to the plate and stopped North Korea before it developed nuclear weapons. The US and the rest of the free world allowed it to happen and now we...

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Old Home Week with the Commissioners

Once a year, when County Editor Scott Yost is taking his well-deserved vacation, I attend a Guilford County commissioners meeting. Last week was my week.   For about 10 years I attended all the meetings of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners, so it is a homecoming of sorts, except it’s kind of like a homecoming where your old home place has been sold and there are a bunch of new people living there.   This year was a little different because Skip Alston, who was a county commissioner during those 10 years, was recently appointed commissioner to replace Ray Trapp, who resigned to take a job in government relations with NC A&T State University. So seeing Alston up there seemed like old times.  Since I attend all the meetings of the Greensboro City Council, I can’t help but make comparisons.   Back when I was attending the meetings of both governing bodies, the meetings of the Greensboro City Council were calm and businesslike, where councilmembers disagreed at times but disagreed agreeably and rarely was anyone’s voice raised. Most votes were unanimous and even big issues engendered little discussion because everything had been worked out behind closed doors before the meetings.   If the votes were there, often all the councilmembers voted in favor of the matter, even if they were opposed, to give a sense of unity.  In 1992, the...

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Rhino Shorts: August 10, 2017

The Wyndham Championship will be here before you know it, Monday, August 14 to Sunday, August 20. And it’s really too early to tell, but if this unusually cool August weather continues, it’s going to be great for watching some of the best golfers in the world out at Sedgefield.   The Wyndham has been attracting more and more of the top players every year. The word is that the pros love the Sedgefield course and enjoy playing in Greensboro.   We should know how to run a golf tournament here because we’ve been doing it since 1938. That first year the total prize money was $5,000 and the tournament attracted a lot of golfers because of the big money being offered. Sam Snead won $1,200 as the first winner.    False alarm on News of the Weird. Chuck Shepherd started News of the Weird as a letter to friends and it grew into a syndicated column carried by newspapers all over the country. When we received word that Shepherd was retiring, we called the syndicate to find out if they were offering a replacement column, but got no answer.   So this week we found out that Shepherd has retired just like he said he would, but News of the Weird lives on and the latest column is in this edition of the Rhino Times.     Last year Greensboro voters approved $126 million in...

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Sale of Lake Jeanette, Buffalo Lake Goes Through

A lot of people were hoping it wouldn’t happen, but last week the sale of Lake Jeanette and Buffalo Lake closed and now JW Demolition is the new owner of the two lakes. At the Lake Jeanette Homeowners Association meeting on June 26 to announce that the lakes were under contract, the homeowners were united in their desire that Lake Jeannette not be changed, and it appears they will get most of what they wished for. According to Dixon Johnston, the president of the Lake Jeanette Homeowners Association board of directors, the new owners signed the lease that restricts the use...

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Politics Make Mountain Out of Molehill for Councilmember Outling

No one raised the issue of a potential conflict of interest when City Councilmember Justin Outling made the motion, and then voted in favor of ending the request for proposal (RFP) process for the city health insurance contract at the July 18 City Council meeting. The motion passed on a 6-to-3 vote with Outling voting in favor of his motion to end the RFP process and the City Council moved on. But Beloved Community Center activist and former attorney Lewis Pitts has filed a complaint with the North Carolina Bar Association alleging that Outling had a conflict of interest and should be sanctioned. Questions have...

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Guilford County Commissioners Support Public Notice Modernization

The majority of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners are in favor of not being required to pay to place public notices in paid circulation newspapers and voted in favor of the resolution in support of a bill that would allow the county to place public notices on its own website. House Bill 205 was passed by the Republican legislature and vetoed by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. If the state House and Senate override North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto, then not only will Guilford County have the option of placing public notices on its own website rather than...

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Under the Hammer: August 3, 2017

Anyone blasting President Donald J. Trump for Anthony Scaramucci’s short reign of terror as White House communications director must not have been following Trump very closely. Trump isn’t afraid to try something different. Scaramucci is a friend who really wanted a job at the White House. Trump was clearly having problems with the White House staff, and the communications department in particular, and it appears he thought having a loyal friend who had his back in that department rather than people who supported him only because he was the Republican who won would work. It didn’t work. Trump is no dummy despite what the mainstream media would have you believe. He saw it didn’t work and fixed it by having a Marine general show Scaramucci the door. I don’t imagine Scaramucci had a lot to say to new White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. Scaramucci may have made a lot of money but Kelly spent a good part of his career leading men in war zones. Men like that have authority running through their veins. ***** One of the reasons Trump was elected is because he is not a professional politician and had never held elective office before defeating Hillary Clinton and becoming president. As a political novice, people have to expect him to make some mistakes. One of those was hiring Reince Priebus as chief of staff and his buddy Sean Spicer as White House...

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First Amendment Protects Speech, Not Monopolies

After reading the editorial in the News & Recordon Wednesday, August 2, about House Bill 205 – to open public notice and legal advertising to the free market system, which was passed by the legislature and vetoed by Gov. Roy Cooper – I had to pull out my Constitution and read the First Amendment a couple of times to make sure I hadn’t forgotten a passage. The editorial begins, “We want to thank Gov. Roy Cooper for protecting the First Amendment rights of Guilford County newspapers – and by extension, the county’s citizens – by vetoing House Bill 205.” The News & Recordmust be talking about some other First Amendment because the First Amendment of the US Constitution has nothing in it about guaranteeing paid-circulation newspapers a monopoly on publishing public notices and legal advertising. The implication that eliminating a monopoly on public notices and legal advertising for paid circulation newspapers is somehow an infringement of freedom on the press is dishonest at best. The First Amendment gives Americans the right to publish a newspaper; it doesn’t say that the government will fund it. Further along, the editorial writer gets to the meat of the subject. This is all about money, not freedom of the press. The News & Recordand every other newspaper that has been feeding at the public trough because of a state mandated monopoly on public notice and legal...

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Downtown Needs Women … and Men

Not long after former City Councilmember Zack Matheny took over as president of Downtown Greensboro Inc. (DGI) in the summer of 2015, I was in his office and he was showing me maps of the downtown.   He tends to flip through things pretty fast so you have to pay attention to keep up.  Zack was telling me that his plan was to get two new parking garages built in downtown Greensboro and pointing to possible locations on a map.   Then he said he was going to get developers to build the parking decks and in return the...

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Rhino Shorts: August 3, 2017

Why does Greensboro always seem to get dissed? A recent promotion by Visit North Carolina – a promotion paid for by the State of North Carolina called Project 543 – lists a whole bunch of attractions all over the state. But in Greensboro it only lists one – Replacements Ltd. Museums in other cities are promoted, but not the International Civil Rights Center & Museum in Greensboro. Other golf tournaments get play but not the Wyndham Championship. Bryan Park has one of the best public golf courses in the state but it gets no mention. Nor does Grandover. The biggest Frying Pan in the state gets a post but not the Greensboro Science Center, LeBauer Park, the Greensboro Coliseum, the ACC Hall of Fame, Guilford Battlefield National Military Park or anything else in the city. Someone going to this site looking for things to do in the state would think the only thing Greensboro has to offer is china. It makes you wonder what Visit North Carolina has against our city. By the way, 543 is the number of miles from Murphy to Manteo and a pretty clever name.   Only in the crazy world of North Carolina politics would this happen. The State Board of Elections and Ethics – which exists only on paper – held a public hearing and people came and spoke. I haven’t seen any...

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Cooper Caved To Newspaper Lobby

The liberal mainstream newspapers like to attack lobbyists, except when the lobbyists are working for the mainstream newspapers. The mainstream newspapers successfully lobbied North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and convinced him to veto a bill sponsored by state Sen. Trudy Wade that took away a special exemption for newspaper carriers and a state-mandated monopoly on legally required advertising in paid circulation newspapers. If it were any other industry the mainstream media would be highly in favor of Wade’s bill. In fact, the Charlotte Observer and Raleigh News & Observer ran a series of articles about the abuse of independent contractors in the construction industry. The mainstream newspapers are opposed to other industries using independent contractors when the workers should be classified as employees, but the same newspapers lobbied hard to keep the special exemption for newspapers as state law. Why should newspaper carriers alone be singled out by the state government as not being employees? What Wade’s bill would have done is required newspapers to abide by the same laws as every other industry when determining whether a person is an employee or an independent contractor. Newspapers don’t have to be concerned about those laws when it comes to newspaper carriers. Even if a carrier meets all the requirements of an employee, because of a special exemption in state law that applies only to newspapers, carriers are not employees....

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Making a Man’s Home His Hassle

Every member of the Greensboro City Council should be required to attend a Board of Adjustment meeting. For some reason, these meetings are not televised, perhaps because the belief is that no one would voluntarily sit down and watch a Board of Adjustment meeting – the name alone makes your eyelids get heavy. But the reason the councilmembers should all have to attend a meeting is not to punish them, but for city councilmembers to see how they are punishing the people of Greensboro with outdated and nonsensical laws. The good news is that the current Board of Adjustment realizes that the zoning laws in Greensboro don’t make a lick of sense and regularly grants variances for those who pay the money and take the time to come to a meeting. Board of Adjustment member Chuck Truby often apologizes to people for the inconvenience of having to apply for and receive a variance for something like increasing the size of their front porch. In the past, the city staff has come to meetings to argue against a homeowner being able to add a porch, a closet or a carport, but that has stopped. Now the staff presents the issue, the property owner explains the problem, the Board of Adjustment votes to grant the variance and everybody goes home happy. The problem is the absurdity of the laws for which...

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Under the Hammer: July 27, 2017

White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, “Mooch” to his friends, has already shown why he is in and former Press Secretary Sean Spicer is out and why White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus is probably on his way out the door. Scaramucci fired his first employee Tuesday and has said that if the leaks from the White House continue he will fire everyone in his office. The leaks have been a constant problem for this White House and it appeared that nothing was being done to stop them. Scaramucci won’t be able to stop all the leaks, but he can certainly take the White House from leaking like a sieve to something more reasonable. If an employee knows that if they are suspected of leaking they will get a stern talking to, that creates an entirely different environment from one where if an employee is suspected of leaking they find their personal belongings in a box outside the door of their former office and a security guard waiting to walk them to the parking lot. Scaramucci may be able to take care of the White House communications office, but somebody is going to have to handle the intelligence agencies, which are constantly leaking. As White House chief of staff, it would seem that would fall to Priebus, but maybe that’s above his pay grade. What President Donald J....

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